Sunday, September 23, 2007

Feng-Shui Me!

Ok- so that’s not exactly how it works, but man wouldn’t that be great?
What is Feng (Fung) Shui ( Shway) anyway?
According to one definition found on the web it is " the ancient Chinese philosophy and practice of creating harmonious environments."
With a definition like that you would think the first rule would be to throw out all the kids and then the husband and family dog!
But No... one of the major things in the article stated that you should place your desk so that your chair faces the door to allow the Ch’i to flow...
Oh and for those who are not Chineseology literate... Ch’i ( cheeeee) is basically your life force. And I know you all want a positive Ch’i so turn your desks around... the boss won’t mind!
Another principle of Feng-Shui that I read in a book... yep there’s a whole section just on how to decorate your house in Feng-Shui fashion at the public library ( you did not think I paid for a book with words I can barely pronounce did you?)... is that you should never place the head of your bed against the wall with the toilet on the other side... Makes for VERY BAD CH’I . And rightfully so I say. I never get a good night’s sleep listening to the toilet run on all night and the water dripping from the faucet. Although the book also said that water features in the home helped to create a calm and relaxed atmosphere that lended itself to the Positive Flow of the Ch’i so maybe I just did not appreciate that role of the dripping water faucet...
Nope, on second thought I appreciated it... I appreciated that hubby needs to check the darn washer and make it stop dripping!!!
By far my favorite Feng-Shui principle is ELIMINATE CLUTTER... so that means that I can get rid of the kids and hubby and the family dog? Oh, no, that means that I have to throw away the junk mail and clean out that bottom drawer in the fridge and sort thru the shoe boxes full of old photos and actually DO something with them? Yeah, I’ll get right on that as soon as I turn my desk around, move the furniture in my bedroom to the other wall and install a water-wall in my living room for effect...
But then again getting rid of the kids, hubby and the family dog would be easier?
I know, I’ll send the kids to school, hubby to work and let the dog out with a nice bouncy ball he can chase for a few hours...
Voila’- Instant Feng-Shui- the creation of a harmonious environment without all the work.... and those Ancient Chinese thought they had all the answers... I guess this modern American Woman is capable of finding a few of her own!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

How important is Where you Live?

This entry was prompted by our recent trip to GA and SC where we looked at homes ( again) and actually met with a builder to discuss costs to build MY HOUSE... currently we are waiting to hear what the bottom line will be so we can decide if it is the right move to make...
Read on then let me know what your thoughts are...


How often do you think about the choices you make?
Where you live, where you work, where your kids go to school?
I had an epiphany one night a few years ago, and since then my goal has been to move SOUTH to where life is slow and people are friendly - even if you are a stranger!
It was during a long night of insomnia, before I was diagnosed with Lupus and FMS, and I just could not get my brain to download for the night.
I got to thinking about the cost of housing here in Maryland and the cost of college educations here without help from the state for people like us that make "good Money".
That got me thinking about our 3 youngest children and where they are supposed to go to middle and high school... not to be a snob but let's face it where we live affects who our children meet!
Did I want them to meet people who live in transient housing and have no real goals? Did I want them to go to a school with an alarmingly high number of gang members known to be there and only a handful of college prep and advanced placement classes?
Did I want to stay in my nice neighborhood and hope the kids would only make friends with, and be influenced by, the kids with college goals who make good grades and want to make something of themselves?
Do I want to HOPE the boy my daughter falls in love with is not a gang member, or related to one?
Then the enormity of how my choices affect my children became very clear.
Where we live will dictate who they meet. Who they meet will affect what they do with their lives... will they excel in school and life, or will they want to take the easy way out?
I will not even attempt to kid myself that what I teach them will be their greatest infuence... I know all too well from raising my 3 oldest children that their peers will hold the greatest influence over them and in many cases be the deciding factor for many of their choices.
So... where we live makes all the difference.
In the city, in the suburbs, in a close-knit neighborhood, rural, urban, fast-paced, slow and steady?
Good Schools with music and arts programs, community sponsored sports events, leave the backdoor open for friends to come on in type of places ...
Do they even exist anymore in the US of A?
If so I want to know where ... because that is where I want to live. That is the influence I want my children to have... a sense of community and responsibility for more than just themselves.
And where did these thoughts bring me to want to live?
South
In all our travels to NC, SC, LA, MS and GA we have only met nice and friendly people. We have seen small towns with Main Street Parades and everyone was there! We have watched the local news and seen highlites from the high school basketball game ! We have gone for a walk and been greeted by total strangers of all colors and walks of life with smiles and waves and genuine good will. You get a feeling of sincerity and security and that is the feeling I want me children to have as they grow older. A sense of belonging to a real Home Town. My search to find the perfect HOME TOWN is ongoing-- I know it is out there!
(Now I know that South is not the only place with towns with the wualities I am looking for- but it does not snow in the south so that makes it perfect for ME!)
Moral of this story...
Where you live makes a difference--- not for you, but for your children.
Choose wisely!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Imagination Working Over Time!



Hello All!


After so many days away from blogging, it seems that I have finally found a schedule that allows me to blog a more frequently!


I just wanted to post a picture on my newest DHDesign Original piece, The Mini-Rosary Bracelet.

I have been crocheting Rosaries for a few weeks now using beautiful thread and gemstones becuase I think they are just lovely and they make me feel good when I am working on them. While working on one this past week I thought, "Wouldn't be great if you could wear one like jewelry?" and Voila I struck on the idea of a Rosary Bracelet. The one pictured is made of the 1st 2 sets of beads from a traditional Rosary starting at the Cross and going thru the 2nd Decade.To use it to say your rosary you just keep turning it around your wrist as you touch each bead. An easy way to keep your Faith at hand and in your heart.

I have Full Rosary Bracelets that are a Rosary that wraps about 5 times up the arm of the wearer and is quite stunning as well.

I love to work with beads! Making jewelry has grown out of the enjoyment I found when crocheting with beads. I have made Victorian Wristlets like the one shown here ( The Kristina) for Weddings, First Communions, and a Special Pink Ribbon set of wristlets for an International Order of Rainbow for Girls ( a youth organization sponsored by the Mason's for girls aged 11-21) Installation of Officers for my daughter whose Charitable Organization was Breast Cancer Research. During her term in the head position they were able to raise funds and volunteer time to help with local and national research efforts.
My newest undertaking is making Silver charms and pendants of my own design for my jewelry.
It is not easy, but it certainly is fulfilling! I am currently working on a line of Lupus Awareness jewelry- my LA line of products that incluse jewelry, Rosaries, tote bags and even some clothing and accessories if I can keep my memory and my hands on task!
Please be sure to check my website: www.DHDesigns.4t.com often to see where my Imagination is taking me!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

LIVING with LUPUS

DID YOU KNOW?
MORE PEOPLE HAVE LUPUS
THAN AIDS, SICKLE-CELL ANEMIA, CEREBRAL PALSY,
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, AND CYSTIC FIBROSIS
COMBINED!

Source: Lupus Foundation of America, Inc., Lupus Fact SheetProvided by the Lupus Foundation of America, Inc.
This Means SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS LUPUS!



Some of you know that I was diagnosed with Lupus just over a year ago. Of course the disease was around long before that , and I like many others, went through a series of frustratingly disappointing tests and dialogs with Doctors over many years along the way to accurate diagnosis.
I try not to talk about my illness with people in general... only those who have it, or an equally debilitating problem, that can relate to how I feel and what I go through daily trying to Live with Lupus.
But I decided to change my focus and see where it leads me... thus far I think it is leading me in a positive direction that I think will help me to help others.

What is Lupus?

Well, that is a loaded question so I will give the easy to understand version, but you must bear in mind that it is much bigger and more vastly affecting than I can even begin to describe here on my simple blog pages.


Lupus is an AutoImmune illness.
Simply put it means that my immune system is attacking and destroying the cells of my body like they would a germ or bacteria that cause the flu or a cold. For whatever reason, my immune system has become the Super Hero-SUPER IMMUNE SYSTEM ! It takes on all cells- friend and foe alike- without discrimination. Ok, anti-discrimination is great when you are talking about equal housing opportunities, job candidates, college scholarships... but when we are talking about the building blocks of every being, it is not such a good thing to have a Super Hero on your side!
SUPER IMMUNE SYSTEM causes inflammation and swelling in the soft tissues and connective tissues within the body; like the heart, lungs, kidneys and liver. It cause joint pain and swelling, which lead to arthritic-like pain and often the inability to sit , stand or walk for significant periods of time. It causes pain for no apparent reason that is random and unpredictable, that comes and goes without any warning, and can leave a person writhing in pain and exhausted beyond belief.
Our Super Hero can also attack the Central Nervous System ( CNS) by causing swelling and cellular changes in the brain. These symptoms may come and go without rhyme or reason with increasing severity along the way. Forgetfulness, confusion, severe headaches, vision disturbances, loss of coordination and notable difficulty making your body do what you ask it to do, like lift a leg to go up a step, become more frequent as time goes by.
Chronic Fatigue, exhaustion, insomnia... these are all familiar symptoms known to those of us LIVING with LUPUS and our friends and families.

The Bad News is ...
There is NO CURE for this illness or those related to it like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Scleraderma and the many, many more that I cannot possibly list here.

The GOOD NEWS is...
Research is being done to develop new medications and treatment programs to make increasing the QUALITY OF LIFE for those LIVING with LUPUS an attainable and long term goal.

How can I make Others Aware of LUPUS?
This is the question I asked myself.

What can I DO to MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
The Answers I gave myself are these...

Tell SOMEONE about LUPUS and Show Support for Lupus Research...

To that end I am writing this blog entry and I am creating a line of LUPUS AWARENESS jewelry and accessories that will be available at

www. DHDesigns.4t.com

A portion of the purchase price for all the LA products will be donated to the LUPUS Foundation of America to help fund Lupus research.

Please help me to help others by purchasing your Lupus Awareness items at
www.DHDesigns.4t.com

DID YOU KNOW?

World Lupus Day - May 10, 2007
World Lupus Day provides both a day and a forum for various findings to be shared with the global lupus community. In addition, observing World Lupus Day offers lupus patients the comfort of knowing their condition is recognized and being addressed on a global level.

OCTOBER is LUPUS AWARENESS MONTH
It doesn't have to be October to help spread the word about lupus.If you want to know more about lupus, contact The Lupus Foundation of America, Inc.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Holy Cow! Where Has the Time Gone???

Well, It is official... April has arrived and is nearly half over and I am still wondering where March went!!!
I realize the last post I made was a month ago and I am really still trying figure out how that happened since it feels like it was just the other day...
Maybe I AM losing my mind??? Nahhhh...:)

I have some new listing up on eBay :


http://cm.ebay.com/cm/ck/1065-29296-2357-0?uid=133919821&site=0&ver=LCA080805&item=130099024538&lk=URL

and

http://cm.ebay.com/cm/ck/1065-29296-2357-0?uid=133919821&site=0&ver=LCA080805&item=130099024916&lk=URL

This is my first attempt at selling on eBay so .... I hope it works!

I have also been busy getting more items posted to my store site at :
www.DHDesigns.4t.net

Feel free to browse and let me know what you think... All thoughts are appreciated!

Well--- time to get the kids dinner and then off to soccer and baseball practices...

I promise to get a new pattern posted soon!!!!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Crochet Felting Tips

It has been a few weeks since my last blog entry so I thought I better put some of the info I have been preparing up!

So- first there are some tips on CROCHET FELTING that I have found helpful with my own experience. Please note that everyone has a way that works for them... try it and see what works for you. Experiment to acheive the individual look you are trying to achieve for your project. Then feel free to let me know what you made and how it turned out!
Secondly- I have a pattern for a crochet cotton felted ( or fulled) bag. It will not have the appearance of a wool bag, but then that is what gives it a sense of style and panache-- at least that is my personal opinion!
Enjoy and experiment and see what your imagination can do!

I have had some comments about the felting technique I use when crocheting. Please note that this is only with CROCHET FELTING and ONLY WHEN I USE 100% COTTON.
If using wool then the fibers will shrink a bit more densely and create a fabric with a solid appearance where the individual stitches will not show. With crochet felting the stitches will still be discernable, but very tight and kind of stuck together.


Guidelines that I use when crocheting to felt.

1-I make the item about 1/3 larger than I want it to be in the end.

2- Use only 100%cotton or if using wool make sure it is not "washable" wool which is treated so it will not shrink and therefore will not felt; and make sure the wool, alpaca, llama, cashmere, etc equal at least 75% of the fiber make up.You can use something with rayon or acetate or such as long as the predominant fiber is a natural untreated one.

3- If making something that will be used like a bag or an article of clothing use a hook size up one or 2 from the recommened size you can comfortably use with the yarn you are working with. If the packaging says to use an F hook then go up to a G or H.
Worsted weight and sport weight can take a G or H hook in a sc or hdc for a nice tight even felted appearance.

4- Make sure you put your item in a lingerie bag or stocking if putting it through a cycle in the washer since it is likely to stretch out in the spin cycle and may end up irregular in shape. And the fibers won't clog your washer's filter.


Felted Bag-

This is an easy to do project:
Using 100% cotton ( I use peaches & Creme worsted weight cotton) and a size G hook

row 1-chain 52, hdc in 2nd ch from hook and in each remaining chain to the end ( 50 hdc) , ch 2 turn
row 2- sc in 1st stitch and in each to the end, chain 2 turn

row 3- hdc in1st stitch and in each stitch across to end, chain 2, turn

continue repeating row 2 and row 3 until fabric measures about 18 inches tall.

Felt the fabric in the washer in a stocking or lingerie bag or by hand.

I prefer by hand for one or 2 pieces and use a bucket or basin filled with scalding hot water with a small amount of detergent.
Wearing rubber gloves is the best advice against burning your fingers! Agitate the fabric really well– squeeze it, rub it against itself and really swish it about in the hat water. Let it sit for a few minutes then repeat the agitation again.
Remove from the hot soapy water and rinse under running hot water.
Wring out then lie flat on a bath towel folded in half. Roll the fabric up in the towel tightly sqeezing the water out as you go.
Unroll and repeat again until fabric feels nearly dry to touch.
Lay fabric out on dry towel to air dry.
You should see burs on the fibers where it looks like they have shredded and knotted together as they shrunk. This is the felted look and with cotton will not be as dense as with wool. You will still see the crochet stitches, but they will be very tight without space between.

Once the fabric is dry fold it in half lengthwise then stitch up the 2 sides.



To make a lining for the purse I like to use a handkerchief.
I get the 97 cent ones at Wal-Mart since they are inexpensive and large.
Open the hankie and cover the purse with it right side down.
Pin the sides closed and mark the top edge about 2 inches beyond the edge of the purse then remove from the purse.
Stitch up the sides leaving about 1.5 inches open at the top on each side then turn right side out.

For plastic or bamboo handles you can easily stitch them in place now using either needle and thread or yarn and a yarn needle.
Fold the edge of the fabric over the handle and stitch it in place so there is a handle on each side of the purse.

Now place the lining over the purse form with wrong sides touching and stitch the top edge of the lining down along the line where the purse handle was attached folding the top of the lining under about 1 inch as you go.
When that is completed just turn the whole thing right side out and you will have your finished felted purse
To dress it up add crocheted yo-yo’s or flowers to the outside or try crocheting over or wrapping a plain bamboo handle with the purse yarn or a contrasting yarn for additional flare.
I like to use solid colors for flowers on variegated yarns and variegated on solids so they stand out.
I also like to use brightly colored handkerchiefs for the lining for a nice contrast or a splash of unexpected color!

Enjoy!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Snow Days...

Now I am sure that most anyone who grew up and attended school in the NorthEast knows about snow days. Here in the central part of Maryland a snow day is called for any amount of, or prediction of possible accumulation of snow, ice, sleet or freezing rain. Today is Day 2 of Ice Days for my children- and those living anywhere in the state except on the Eastern Shore. So, my floors are covered with melting salty slush and the kitchen is a mess of cocoa mugs, chocolate syrup and sandwiches. Every time I turn around there is a fresh pile of wet, grimy socks, gloves, hats and boots by the front door.
As I grumble under my breath yet again to children who have already dashed back out to play in the snowy/icy mix that in summer months is known as "the front lawn" I am reminded of the snow days of my childhood.
One such snow day my best friend and I found ourselves walking for hours through our neighborhood over snow-quieted streets. We had lived in this same place for all of our 12 years and knew every street and backyard like our own. We walked to the 7-11 and bought Slurpees and chocolate bars; we walked to her boyfriend's house and hung out for a while; we walked to the elementary school where everyone was sledding down the big hill behind the school that emptied out by the community pool. We had a blast! We fell into bed exhausted, with wind-chapped cheeks and sunburned lips and we were thrilled to hear that the next day would be a snow day too! Oh the plans we made on the phone at 10pm after the evening news was broadcast! It was no longer a school night so we could stay up late and talk on the phone, sneak late night snacks and plan our walking tour of the nieghborhood for the next day. It was exciting and so much fun...
As I turn to the newly shed pile of wet, smelly woolens that have once agained appeared by the front door; as I carry the freshly laundered, clean and warm replacement socks, gloves and hats and drop them into their bin in the front closet, I do remember and bite back the grumpy response on the tip of my tongue, grab the mop and once again wipe up the slushy, salty foot prints. I remember what it is like to be a child again, to have an unexpected free day from school and responsibilities of homework and reading assignments, to have an imagination that can turn the snowscape of an ordinary front yard into a winter wonderland full of magical winter creatures like ice princesses and snow faeries...
The kids are out to play once again, with their freshly laundered woolens and stomachs full of hot cocoa and sandwiches and full imaginations. I return to the work of being "Mom" and I think that things are as they should be. Even now my children are gathering their own memories to be taken out and visited many long years from now, just as I have visited mine.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Just a Little More Time...( Felted Tie Pattern)

How many times have you said that , or at the very least thought that very same thing? I seem to be thinking it and saying it too much these days myself. I have been trying to figure just exactly how to find more time in my days, but unless I decide to give up on sleep altogether I cannot see any way to add more hours to my day... maybe Congress could vote some more hours in for me? LOL!
I have been working on getting my craft room in some semblence of order, a daunting task indeed! But on the bright side I actually FOUND an entire bin full of yarn that I did not remember having!
I am working on several projects at the moment-- crochet, knit and cross stitch, as well as trying to get my online store launched. Still have not come up with a good name for it... My hand-crafted item site including Jewelry, Purses and accessories is called DHDesigns, but I was hoping to come up with something a bit more catchy for an online store. Hopefully I can come up with something that works in the next day or 2 and get my store opened!

I promised a FREE PATTERN so here is the first one. It is easy and requires no real gauge.
I used Paton's Wool in blue and it looked like one I saw at the Mall before Christmas that was on sale for 59.99.... It took about 1/3 of the ball of wool for this project.

Crochet Felted Teacher's Tie

Supplies:
Size H hook
Worsted Weight Wool of choice ( real wool not acrylic)

Chain 32, turn
hdc in 2nd chain from hook and each chain to end (30 stitches), chain 2, turn
continue this pattern until tie is 48 inches long
Final row sc across to end and bind off.

Finishing :
Place tie in basin of HOT water with 1/2 tsp of liquid dish soap. Squeeze and agitate the tie in the hot water for 6-10 minutes then rinse with warm water until runs clear. Roll tie up into a ball and squeeze as much water out as possible.
Repeat this process until there are no visible spaces between stitches so that tie appears to be made of a solid fabric. It may take 3 cycles of hot water and rinsing to acheive this depending on how loosely you crochet. The tie should be about 1/3 smaller than when you started if you have felted it completely.
When you are satisfied with your felting and have sqeezed as much water out as possible fold a bath towel in half then lay the tie out on the towel with the tie folded in half. Roll the towel up with the tie inside applying pressure to the towel as you roll. Do this several times to remove as much moisture as possible from the tie.

To dry the tie unroll it and block it so it is square on each corner and the sides are straight and let it dry over night. To finish use an iron set on wool setting and lightly press the tie by placing the iron on the tie for several seconds beginning at one end and moving it along the tie to the other end. Be sure to lift the iron and set it down in the next spot- Do Not Slide it along or it will make the tie look uneven or crooked along the edges.
Voila'! You have now made a hand-crafted wool tie comparable to those found in high end retail stores for upwards of 100.00!!!
Great for gift giving with a nice Tie Tack or Tie Clip

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

DHDesigns.... That's Me!

Well it would seem that I have finally decided to join in the Blogging fun and here I am.
Who am I, that is the queston.
I am ~d of DHDesigns. I make jewelry, fashion accessories, purses and more. I crochet, knit, sew, enjoy wire wrapping, beading and am now trying my hand and making my own silver jewelry and accents.
Some of the jewelry collections available for sale via the web can be viewed and ordered at:

www.AllJeweledUp.com/Dhanlon

Don't see something you want , or need a different color scheme-- just email me, tell me what you want and I will make it!

A little about me... I am 40-something and have a rather large family including 6 children, a husband, a dog and some hamsters. My hobby is bird breeding so I have several pairs of lovebirds and other small parrot species right off my craft room. I enjoy reading, crocheting, knitting and creating jewelry and purses in various mediums. I love to experiment and try to let my imagination do the talking when it comes to my creations.

Getting my business off the ground is my priorty for the 2007 year and so far it is looking pretty good! To help get it going I am offering specials to all who order jewelry from me in months of January, February and March. For more info on the specials I am running please feel free to email me.

Feel free to take a look at the available jewelry collections and stay tuned for new postings with patterns for jewelry and crochet items.

I tend to ramble at times and tell stories about my daily life and my simple pleasures. I hope you will come back to share these with me soon!